Oh no she didn’t. In yet another stunning display of her own tone-deafness, President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary made a major female-focused faux pas. What Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about Nancy Pelosi brought home a concern many women have long held. When responding to Pelosi’s facial expression during the State of the Union, Sanders threw out a phrase most women have heard all too often. “I think she should smile a lot more often,” she said on CNN’s New Day. “I think the country would be better for it.” Read on to find out why she should have kept that opinion to herself.
Sanders thinks Pelosi’s facial expression speaks for all Democrats
“She seems to kind of embody the bitterness that belongs in the Democrat party right now,” Sanders said, of Pelosi. The press secretary added that she felt Sanders’ facial expression pointed to Democrats’ attitudes toward the speech, in general. “I think last night was a good step forward,” she said. “Hopefully, they can let go of some of that, and they have to make a big decision. They need to decide … do they love America more than they hate this president, and are they willing to put some of those differences aside, come together and do what’s right for this president?”
Next: The Democrats’ bitterness does not represent the whole problem.
Will Democrats come together for the president after all?
Sanders’ call for unity echoed similar themes in President Donald Trump’s first SOTU address. He said, “Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people.” His remarks earned loud applause from GOP members and stony faces from Democrats, Pelosi included, The New York Times reports.
Some of the more controversial — and often downright factually incorrect — elements of the speech drew hisses from the Democrats. Those included his claim that “open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities,” and that a “single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” In a dig at the children of undocumented immigrants who have grown up in the United States, known as Dreamers, he said, “Americans are Dreamers too.” He further criticized National Anthem police brutality protests, an indisputably divisive move.
Next: This isn’t the first time Sanders has spouted off inappropriate comments.
Sanders puts her foot in her mouth on the regular
The press secretary holds a long history of twisting the truth — and straight up lying — to the American people. She regularly defends Trump’s off-the-cuff communication style, and sometimes glosses over the truth. In her endless quest to make her boss look good, Sanders often makes herself look incompetent at best, and sometimes even obstructive.
For example, Sanders once said, “The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.” That actually holds no basis in fact. At a rally in February 2016, Trump actually said, “There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
Next: Sanders’ comment sounds pretty similar to another cabinet member’s.
Reince Priebus said the same thing about this woman
The former Republican National Committee Chairman leveled the same critique at then-candidate Hillary Clinton, CNN points out. After a debate, he tweeted, “@HillaryClinton was angry + defensive the entire time – no smile and uncomfortable – upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets.” The Clinton campaign quickly fired back that her facial expression reflected “what taking the office of President seriously looks like.”
Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said the fact that he focused on her demeanor rather than her answers said volumes about the campaign. “The fact that the only criticism they could have for Hillary Clinton is that she didn’t smile enough at a very serious forum on our veterans, on our national security and on the job of commander in chief just tells you everything you need to know,” he said.
Next: It also says something about how women are treated, in general.
Most women have heard the ‘smile’ comment before
Women from Clinton, to tennis great Serena Williams, actress Kristen Stewart, and most average females come across this every day. Why do men think it’s OK to tell female-identifying people what to do with their faces? Manhattan-based relationships therapist Sherry Amatanstein says it all stems from control. “Women are supposed to smile, be subservient, put a good face on things, not make waves,” she explained.
“Men tell women to smile because society conditions men to think we exist for the male gaze and for their pleasure,” writer and activist Bené Viera told Huffington Post. “Men are socialized to believe they have control over women’s bodies. This [is the] result in them giving unsolicited instructions on how we should look, think and act.”
Next: The request can have a damaging effect, especially at work.
Yes Sanders, asking women to smile is harassment
Far from an innocent request, telling women to “smile” reads like harassment, especially when it comes from strangers or takes place in the workplace. Nationwide, one in four women has experienced harassment on the job, according to a 2011 poll by Langer Research Associates. Women who display assertive, dominant, and independent personalities in male-dominated organizations represent the bulk of the victims, a 2007 academic study found.
Telling women to smile is a coded way of telling them to appear less threatening. In addition, it ties her worth as a person to a man’s expectations, and that carries some dangerous effects.
Next: Sanders’ comment to Pelosi reveals a big hole in Trump’s speech, as well.
Trump did not address the problem Sanders’ comment revealed
During his SOTU speech, Trump paid no credence to the #MeToo movement. He also did not address the Russia investigation, or any of the issues plaguing his administration. By asking Pelosi to smile, Sanders reveals a major flaw in the Trump administration. It does not respect women or their contributions, and shows their issues have no place in Trump’s White House. As his mouthpiece to the people, the comments Sanders made clarifies that perfectly.
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